Jazz CD reviews – late November 2016
November 30, 2016
Marcello Pellitteri Aquarius Woman (Marpel Music 0002)
Long established as performer, composer, arranger and educator, drummer Marcello Pellitteri has appeared on scores of albums, but the emotional depths of this one are exceptional. A tribute to the all too short life of Marcello’s daughter, Veronica, this is excellent contemporary jazz, intense and powerful, moving and inspiring. Marcello is joined here by alto saxophonist Orazio Maugeri, pianist Salvatore Bonafede and bassist Gabrio Bevilacqua, as well as guests on some tracks. These are tenor saxophonists George Garzone and Rino Cirinnà, vocalists Nedelka Prescod and Lauren Kinhan, guitarist Marcello Todaro and harmonica player Yvonnick Prene. The music played includes compositions by Marcello and others heard here, all of them drawing upon memories of a much-loved young woman. Veronica’s voice is also heard: Aquarius Woman was composed by Marcello to accompany Veronica’s reading of Murtiningrum’s poem, Greetings Of Hope. This poem’s title is important because despite the background to this album, this is not dark and depressing music but uplifting. It is noted that the proceeds from this (and Marcello’s album Acceptance) go to the Veronica Pellettrini Memorial Fund at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.
Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band ¡Intenso! (Clavo CR 201609)
Building upon Clare Fischer’s remarkable legacy as composer, arranger and bandleader, his son, Brent Fischer, leads the continuing Latin Jazz Big Band. Here, the music presented draws mainly upon compositions by Clare, and on some tracks he is also heard. In the closing years of Clare’s life, he was often recorded with a small group at his home and here his son’s arrangements have added the Latin Jazz Big Band, replete with striking horns and underpinned with percussive power. Altogether, there are more than twenty musicians involved as well as guests who include Sheila E, timbales (on Solar Patrol), drummers Walfredo Reyes (on Play Time) and Tris Imboden (on Solar Patrol), and vocalist Roberta Gambarini (on Gaviota). There are numerous solos by members of the big band, among them trombonists Scott Whitfield and Francisco Torres, tenor saxophonists/flautists Rob Hardt, and Brian Clancy and trumpeter Carl Saunders. Collectively, this is Latin jazz at its most striking and is a fitting tribute to an exceptional musician who is clearly held in very high regard by many.
Carol Robbins Taylor Street (Jazzcats JCTS 109)
Only rarely has the harp appeared in jazz, and on those occasions it has seldom been convincing. Carol Robbins is one of the few exceptions, delivering performances that are rhythmically strong and melodically engaging. All the tracks here are Carol’s own compositions and are varied in form. While Grey River is a pleasing ballad, as is Smooth Ride, mostly Carol favors medium tempo pieces, some in waltz time, Full Circle and The Chill, others with a mainstream jazz feel with an occasional touch of the blues The Flight, Trekker and The Local. Carol is joined here by Billy Childs, piano and Fender Rhodes, Bob Sheppard, tenor saxophone and clarinet, and Larry Koonse, guitar (these four with Carol being members of Childs’ Jazz Chamber Ensemble); Darek Oles, bass, and Gary Novak, drums (these two being Carol’s regular rhythm section); and Curtis Taylor, trumpet, and Ben Shepherd, electric bass. The many soloists display invention and skill, the ensemble passages showing how attuned each of these musicians is to the others. Historically, jazz harp was heard from Adele Girard, Caspar Reardon, Dave Snell, Dorothy Ashby and Corky Hale; and today Lori Andrews, Zeena Parkins and Deborah Henson-Conant. Carol Robbins is certainly worthy of being included in in this distinguished company.
Brent Gallaher Moving Forward (V&B GAL-B-0003)
Especially well known in Cincinnati where he is a mainstay of the local jazz scene, tenor saxophonist Brent Gallaher here leads his quintet through an engaging selection of contemporary jazz. Among the pieces played are Brent’s own Serendipity and Moving Forward, Kim Pensyl’s Big Sur, Gratitude and Cycle, and Fred Hersch’s Rain Waltz. The other musicians in Brent’s group are trumpeter Alex Pope Norris (whose No Apparent Reason is also heard), pianist Dan Karlsberg (composer of Cesar), bassist Aaron Jacobs and drummer Anthony Lee. Reflective music, painting aural images of people and places, this is a good example of today’s jazz performed by a new generation of instrumentalists with much to say and to in so doing ensure that the music goes on.
Little Johnny Rivero Music In Me (Truth Revolution TRR 022)
A highly respected and sought-after percussionist, Puerto Rican-born Little Johnny Rivero has long been resident in New York. Among the musicians with whom he has worked and sometimes recorded are Eddie Palmieri, Dr Lonnie Smith, and Carlos “Patata” Valdes. On this, Little Johnny’s second album as leader, he is joined by Brian Lynch, trumpet, featured on Afro-Rykan Thoughts, Louis Fouché, alto saxophone, on Bombazúl, Zaccai Curtis, piano, Luques Curtis, bass, and drummer Ludwig Alfonso, drums, as well as several guests. Trumpeter Jonathan Powell is on four tracks, including Little Giants and Alambique, trombonist Conrad Herwig on Mr. L.P., vocalist Natalie Fernandez on Palmieri, Much Respect. As might be expected, the rhythmic underpinning is exceptional, not only by Little Johnny but also by drummer Ludwig Afonso as well as percussionists Luisito Quintero and especially Anthony Carrillo. Exhilarating music that will have wide appeal.
For more on Marcello Pellitteri contact Holly Cooper at Mouthpiece Music; for Brent Fischer & the Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band, Carol Robbins, Brent Gallagher and Little Johnny Rivero go to Jim Eigo’s Jazz Promo Services, who also represent guitarist Brian Kastan whose new double album, Roll The Dice On Life (BKR 101), has just been released.
These albums can be found at most walk-in and on-line stores, including Amazon.